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June 1, 2014

Sea salt (Recipe: pizza bianca) {vegetarian}

Originally published in August 2006 (you can read the post here), this updated pantry ingredient post features new photos and links. If you live nearby in Rhode Island, you can buy wonderful fresh pizza dough in the refrigerator case of any local supermarket (we do love our pizza). Be sure to let the dough rest at room temperature for a few minutes, to relax the gluten and make it easier to roll out.

Make pizza bianca with storebought pizza dough, or your favorite homemade dough. #pizza

In The Saltmen of Tibet, a stunningly beautiful 1997 Swiss documentary film, director Ulrike Koch follows the incredible physical and spiritual three-month journey undertaken each year by nomadic tribesmen on the Himalayan plateau to harvest salt from the holy lakes of the Changtang region.

For these nomads, sea salt is still the primary currency, just as it was in China and India more than 2,000 years ago.

Coarse sea salt adds the perfect crunch to this pizza.

Salt has been worth its weight in gold, literally, from the days of the Roman Empire through the European spice trading of the 16th-18th centuries, when salt traded one-to-one for a pound of gold. More recently, in 1930, the British government in India imposed a salt tax, and Mahatma Gandhi and thousands of followers walked 240 miles to the sea (the famous Salt Satyagraha, or Salt March) to collect their own salt and protest the tax.

Made by the evaporation of sea water, sea salt is expensive, its high price fueled by popularity, limited supply, and labor-intensive harvesting methods. For example, French fleur de sel, considered the best by many professional chefs (but not by me...read on!), supposedly is formed when winds blow in just the right way over the summer sea off the coast of the village of Guerande, in Brittany. It's hand-harvested by workers who comb off only the top layer, the lightest and purest of the evaporate, in a tradition that has not changed for centuries.

Sea salt is primarily a finishing salt, added after cooking to brighten the flavor of food. If I had room for only one salt, the Portuguese Flor de Sal would be my choice. It's beautiful and flavorful, everything you want in a finishing salt.

By the way, sea salt diluted in water is a recommended healing rinse for body piercings. Just thought you'd want to know.

Salty pizza bianca makes the perfect match for gooey cheese.

Pizza bianca

From the pantry, you'll need: fresh pizza dough, unbleached all-purpose flour, extra virgin olive oil, thyme, sea salt.

Serves 6.

Ingredients

1 pound fresh pizza dough (storebought or homemade, white or whole wheat)
2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil (use a very fruity oil)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp good quality sea salt

Directions

Preheat to 450°F.

Lightly flour your work surface. Roll out the dough to 1/2-inch thick, and place it on a heavy rimmed baking sheet. You might need to let the dough rest for a minute now and then while you're rolling it out, to allow the gluten to relax and make the dough easier to roll.

Using a fork, prick the dough all over. Drizzle on the oil, then sprinkle with thyme and sea salt.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven until golden, about 15 minutes. The pizza might puff up in the oven and look like bit like a lunar landscape. Don't worry; it will taste salty and wonderful.

Serve warm, with some gooey cheese on the side.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More pizza possibilities:
Peachy mama pizza
Sausage, egg and asparagus pizza
Pan pizza for one (or two)
Hearts of palm, shrimp and cheese pizza
Whole wheat pizza with pumpkin, black beans and caramelized onions

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
30-minute barbecue chicken pizza, from Just a Taste
Spinach artichoke pesto pizza, from Two Peas and Their Pod
Grilled pizza, from Dinner: A Love Story
Killer garlic rolls, from Foodie Crush
Classic margherita pizza, from The Kitchen

Pizza bianca, with fresh herbs and crunchy sea salt. #vegetarian #pizza

Comments

I love salt (far too much) so I'm sure I would love this!

Kalyn, I am much more a salt person than a sugar person. This bread was too much temptation for me!

I could live on bread and salt alone!

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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